Conversion Driving Copy

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with another great question set titled “Conversion Driving Copy.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: Do you believe that users actually read your text ads? Why or why not?

  • I hope they do and I think they do based on CTR, etc. – Mike Crimmins (@mikecrimmins)
  • I think people scan read. – Lance Dobson (@LanceDobson)
  • I believe that the ones who click read at least a part of the ad. Because they have a choice of what to click on. – Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
  • Definitely. Split testing proves this. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • I think people skim the ads and look for words/features that stand out, but I think very few users actually read the ads. – Matt Umbro
    • True, but that’s where the confusing “isn’t that some form of reading” comes in. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
      • Valid point, I just don’t think searchers fully read the headline, D1 & D2 and say I’m going to click because of the copy. – Matt Umbro
        • Agreed, I think it’s more about finding those triggers “free shipping, 90 day warranty” that work with your audience. – Kirk Williams
  • Yes: seeing certain messaging consistently drive higher CTR than other messaging. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
    • But is that a result of formatting/these ads showing above the organic listing? And I know it’s hard to test, but just some thoughts I have. – Matt Umbro
  • Getting more & more convinced that 2nd/3rd line are mostly irrelevant. Source: Countless large scale tests. – Marcel Sprecher (@msp1406)
  • I think they read, but don’t typically analyze or compare. – Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
  • The term “read” can mean different things. But different text in A/B tests does yield different results so “at some level, yes.” – Kirk Williams
  • I think it’s mainly PPC nerds who actually read PPC ads. – Claudia Brunner (@_ClaudiaBrunner)
  • Yup. Many a time – especially on mobile – they actually take up the whole screen. – Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
  • Yes, simple word order changes affect on site performance. – Peter Thistle (@PeterThistle)
  • Fully read the ads? No. Partially? Yes. You can prove this by testing or seeing which ad extensions work better. – Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
  • Yes, they read it to the extent that makes click on the ad. – Scott Garrett (@ScottGarrett89)
  • Yeah – why test otherwise? – Kevin Klein (@kkwrites)
  • Certain audiences do (50yo+). But I dont think the younger audiences read it fully or at all.~based on weird search term clicks. – Orlando Valencia (@ValenciaSEM)
  • Seems so! Must have compelling copy to compete w/all the other text. A/B testing helps. – CallRail (@CallRail)
  • It varies, many cases just the headline catches the attention & in others keywords highlighted in the dl1 & dl2. – Nilotpal Roy (@Neilnbound)
  • Skim, definitely skim. Things that stand out will perform better, so bigger ads, bolded keywords, etc. – Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
  • They better or we should all start looking for other jobs. – Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
  • Let’s put it this way, I think the days are gone where you have to get super creative with your copy. – Matt Umbro
    • Compelling copy in the D1 of an extended headline can make a difference. – Joe Martinez
  • Users read headlines, from there it’s all about specific words that resonate. You have to find those words through testing. – Michael Henderson (@innuHendo)
  • I don’t think that 95 characters constitutes “reading”. PPC ads are skimmable by nature. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • YES, my question lives on! Think searchers skim for 1) headline and/or display URL for brand 2) details like Free Ship/Price. – Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
  • Most people probably won’t read the entire copy before clicking, but some sure do. There are also different levels of scanning. – Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
  • Some people seem to be interpreting the question as “does every searcher always read every word in every ad.” – Steve Gibson
  • We have to assume that users are skimming or just looking at headlines. Match those headlines to search queries! – Patrick Cusumano (@heypatrick20)
  • Based on CTR I’m 100% sure that they read at least part of the ad (probably the part in bold font that overlaps with the query). – Jeremy Krantz (@JeremyKrantz)
  • To me, it’s more important to have bolded keywords and utilize all features instead of the text that is actually written. Having said that, I always make sure the text is still relevant. And to throw in a caveat, using all features and formats is more important for ecomm because of PLAs. – Matt Umbro
  • I believe they partially read it. Just to get an idea of if it’s relevant. – Matthew Lloyd (@MaLloyd20)
  • If its an exact match branded query, probably not. All others yes since USP/CTA testing shows results. – Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
  • I think people scanning ads still doesn’t make creativity obsolete. If you can catch someone’s eye you’re good. – Martin Roettgerding
  • Fav thing about this q is how much we get into it. We can’t spend HOURS rewriting single lines of copy for nothing, dammit! This q also good reminder to keep testing! (exciting & “boring” copy). Just bc MAY not read it doesn’t mean they won’t/can’t. – Maddie Cary
  • Yes… to a certain degree. Not everyone will read every word/most words, but not everyone will skim them for keywords either. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)

Q2: Do you see ad copy writing as text ads plus ad extensions or both facets are all encompassing? Why?

  • Hard to tie ad copy to extensions because you have no control over extensions. When, which, etc. – Robert Brady
  • No – extensions are a function of position. Copy is not. – Kevin Klein
  • I dont see as either/or – fully optimized ads use great copy plus all available enhancements. – Peter Thistle
  • I see them as separate as you can’t be sure what extensions will show. – Steve Gibson
  • Ad extensions are unreliable, so I wouldn’t recommend assuming they’re there. – Martin Roettgerding
  • Ad extensions’ impression share is too dodgy to count on. Cant win them all, so be safe and make each component work on its own. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
  • I see them as separate. After writing ad copy, I write or choose relevant extensions to match it. – Patrick Cusumano
  • Different pieces. You have to treat each as it’s own experiment to find the right mix. Test Ad copy variables then extensions. – Maria Corcoran (@mariacorcoran)
  • I would say it depends on availability of content for sitelinks. Some sites just have em to help ad rank and nothing more. – Gil Hong
  • Basically, ad extensions can be tuned to ads, but not the other way around. – Martin Roettgerding
  • Also, how often are new ad extensions released/updated/retired? Don’t bank your whole strategy on something that will change. – Mark Irvine
  • Sure, because it’s all about the additional ad space that helps increasing CTR. – Claudia Brunner
  • Ad extensions should complement your ad copy. Having said this, you should ALWAYS include them even if they don’t show. – Matthew Umbro
  • Ad extensions can be more noticeable than main ad, consider when writing copy. The phone number extension is important. – CallRail
  • Not to mention extensions could work well with Ad A, but not B, (if & when they show) thus muddying testing data. – Robert Brady
  • I can see one testing extension copy that performs well in ads. But outside of that there’s really no correlation for me. – Michael Henderson
  • I see copy & extensions as separate but both important. Ad copy = your main course. Extensions = the wine that compliments it. – Maddie Cary
  • Extensions are random. We can influence the event they will show but to a certain degree, so I wouldn’t rely on them entirely. – Erika Schmidt
  • Customize for main ad + extensions. Don’t forget landing pages have copy too! – Rohan Ayyar
  • Main ad copy is like the car Extensions are like rims, chrome, paint job etc. A Pinto is still ugly with all that “stuff”. – Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
  • Ad-main interview outfit that needs to be good on it’s own. And extensions are accessories that make it look better. – Roxana Hassel
  • Agree with all who said separate. Set up all possible extensions but for the love of God don’t repeat your ad copy there! – Colleen McCaskell (@ppccolleen)
  • Ad extns help me improve ad relevancy & also help me cross-sell in ecom verticals. Ad Extn analysis can excavate some data. – Nilotpal Roy
  • For ad text, I like an over arching selling points. For extensions, I want specifics or other pages people are interested in. – Mike Crimmins
  • Intentional or not extensions can act as qualifiers which ties to the ad. – Dallas Stevens (@DDP_PPC)
  • I noticed that dynamic structured snippets sometimes replace the controllable ad extensions. There’s even less control nowadays. – Martin Roettgerding
  • Ads need a benefit, offer, and call to action for great CTR and CONV. – Jeff Selig (@SEOSEM)

Q3: When using image based ads, what are some common practices for copy? Why?

  • So many people forget a call-to-action when doing display ads. It’s critical to tell people what you want them to do! – CallRail
  • In my view, copy should only complement the image, similar to extensions complimenting text ads. – Matt Umbro
  • Simple & relevant copy. Strong CTA. Let your images say more than your copy. – James Svoboda
  • Concise, to the point, obviously having something to make the stick out. My personal preference is simple and pleasant design. – Roxana Hassel
  • Avoid Ad Copy. – Lance Dobson
  • Same as usual for Bing’s new Image Extensions for text ads. – Patrick Cusumano
  • What’s in it for the user? WHY should they click on your ad? What do you offer that other companies can’t? – Joe Martinez
  • Keep the copy messaging consistent with the landing page to ensure the user has a cohesive experience. – Scott Garrett
  • We talking in the SERPS, GDN or Facebook & Twitter? Because the 20% rule on Facebook makes things dramatically different. – Bryant Garvin
  • An image is worth 1000 words – let it do the talking, but provide a short call to action too tie it together. – Mark Irvine
  • If you use faces, use appropriate emotion adjectives along with product names. Helps in branding. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Regarding emojis, the practical side of me thinks they are too gimmicky, but the marketer in me knows they draw attention. – Matt Umbro
  • Clear call to action, clear main point, clean and uncluttered design. – Aviva Downing (@AvivCuriously)
  • Is this remarketing? Or to cold prospects? – Steve Gibson
  • For remarketing same prod/serv they’ve looked at, I like to repeat propositions they’ve seen before. – Steve Gibson
  • Often see branding & “flash” over CTA + action button. They arent actively searching, so don’t scream! Politely enter the convo. – Maddie Cary
  • CTA, brand logo, and hero images work really well (from what I’ve seen). Needs to be relevant of course. – Orlando Valencia
  • In services advertising concepts can be very abstract, not easily represented graphically, need good copy to manage relevance. – Peter Thistle
  • I actually quite like the Facebook principle of not cluttering up your banner with tons of copy. Image should speak for itself. – Colleen McCaskell
  • Watch your visual hierarchy. Make sure eyes are drawn to the most important elements of your ad. – Aviva Downing
  • Image does most the work. Include value props, and seal w/ call to action. – Dallas Stevens
  • Banner Ads worked best with a focus product, clear color contrast & clear CTA for MPA & PPLA on Facebook. – Nilotpal Roy
  • Found that headlines that ask a question are effective in getting the click, because it catches the users attention. There should be a unity between the image and the copy, and it should invoke an emotion. – Gary Ware (@garyware)

Q4: How does the copy you use in your Facebook ads differ from what you use in Google/Bing ads? Why?

  • I mean, I’d say it’s totally different. a lot easier to speak to pain points when targeting via demo/psychographics vs KWs. Not to mention there is SO MUCH MORE room for copy — and long-form copy works well. – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • On Facebook I try to be more conversational, more social. So it feel organic in the news feed. – Aviva Downing
  • Can speak more directly to a specific audience. – Matthew Lloyd
  • I use totally different sales approaches – because prospects are at diff stages of funnel – so copy is incredibly different. – Steve Gibson
  • Take advantage of call to action buttons and cards on Bing & Social to keep your text to a minimum and let your image shine. – Mark Irvine
  • It’s a dang sight longer and more descriptive! – Colleen McCaskell
  • Anecdotal here (& yes, I’m a millennial). More image + CTA looks like article or something friend shared, more likely to click. – Maddie Cary
  • FB = Higher in the buying funnel copy. – Peter Thistle
  • They aim to bolster brand identity or the identity of target persona. Different audience & intent = different messaging. – CallRail
  • Google feels like I just have 1s to please the goldfish! So only facts or completely ballistic, Facebook more like a 1st date! – Nilotpal Roy
  • FB ads should be time sensitive and highly targeted – way more so than Google/Bing. – Maria Corcoran
  • Your image is a value statement too. Build on it with other value points to connect emotionally with the desired audience. – Joe Martinez
  • I try to list more benefits and CTAs. Try to make it engaging, because the FB ads can be a bit more intrusive than typical GDN. – Orlando Valencia
  • Google ads have search intent. Facebook ads are more top-of-the-funnel. Affinity calc methods differ too. – Rohan Ayyar
  • Copy I use in FB ads then to be very conversational compared to PPC ads where you are trying to be relevant to the query. – Gary Ware
  • Also important is Audience granularity: Top of the funnel is zilch attention span & context. Granular audiences more context! – Nilotpal Roy

Q5: When creating ads (in any platform) are you more creative-driven or mass production focused? Why? (do you sacrifice creativity for mass production or vice versa?)

  • Text Ads: Often I’ll try to come of with creative blocks that can be mixed/matched to generate quantity (and tests). – Kyle Crocker
  • Creative within the voice of the brand as much as possible. – Mike Crimmins
  • I’m creative as much as I can be, but generally as long as I use targeted KW and CTA, I’m all about mass production. – Matthew Umbro
  • Time is always limited. Use it where it produces the greatest leverage. – Steve Gibson
  • I err on mass production side, but realize that creativity is crucial. Creativity usually happens before production starts. – Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
  • Neither — I’m revenue driven. – Kevin Klein
  • Search – mass driven for majority of account. Creative driven for top traffic/sales ad groups. Because time mgmt. – Kirk Williams
  • Identify your biggest win audiences and cater to them first. Let everything else be mass consumable. – Mark Irvine
  • Depends on scope & stage of campaign lifecycle. If building out new/large will build mass w/ key points to test across ad groups. – James Svoboda
  • Test both, start with mass and then scale down your test to be more creative on individual segments. – Orlando Valencia
  • It depends on how much time we have to do it. Lots of time = highly relevant ads w/ ad customizers Not so much time = relevant. – Erika Schmidt
  • I’d err on the side of mass production to get campaign structure as granular as possible. – Timothy Jensen
  • Always conversion and ROI focused. – Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJon)
  • Not too concerned about creativity but quality always. You cannot sacrifice quality for mass production. – Aviva Downing
  • In theory it helps to be more creative focus, however it’s not always easy when put into practice, example enterprise ecom. – Gary Ware
  • Definitely a line that must be danced, especially when have multiple clients. Opinion is creativity is more important. – Josh Kelson
  • Agreed. If you already know your audience than the ad message should be easy. Mass production time! – Joe Martinez
  • The former. 1 black swan can be more valuable than all the white ones. Provided you look far and wide. – Rohan Ayyar
  • What converts best? Keep testing until you nail it! – CallRail
  • To put a finer point what I like to do is test a creative concept get learnings then mass produce. – Gary Ware
  • TBH, while I try to ensure have relevant headlines & offers, it’s all about mass prod/efficiency. NY resolution = mix it up! – Maddie Cary
  • Good compromise is designing a nice template and adding elements of personalisation based on how you’re targeting people. – Colleen McCaskell
  • Need balance, campaigns can bog down in creative angst while results could be achieved earlier by mass testing. – Peter Thistle

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Aviva Downing (@AvivCuriously)
• Bryant Garvin (@BryantGarvin)
• CallRail (@CallRail)
• Claudia Brunner (@_ClaudiaBrunner)
• Colleen McCaskell (@ppccolleen)
• Coy Robison (@IamCoy)
• Dallas Stevens (@DDP_PPC)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Erika Schmidt (@erikapdx)
• Gary Ware (@garyware)
• Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
• Jeff Selig (@SEOSEM)
• Jeremy Krantz (@JeremyKrantz)
• Joe Martinez (@MilwaukeePPC)
• Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJon)
• Josh Kelson (@JoshKelson)
• Kevin Klein (@kkwrites)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
• Lance Dobson (@LanceDobson)
• Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
• Marcel Sprecher (@msp1406)
• Maria Corcoran (@mariacorcoran)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty)
• Matthew Lloyd (@MaLloyd20)
• Michael Henderson (@innuHendo)
• Mike Crimmins (@mikecrimmins)
• Nilotpal Roy (@Neilnbound)
• Orlando Valencia (@ValenciaSEM)
• Patrick Cusumano (@heypatrick20)
• Peter Thistle (@PeterThistle)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Rohan Ayyar (@searchrook)
• Roxana Hassel (@RoxanaHassel)
• Scott Garrett (@ScottGarrett89)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Streamcaps Drive This Copy

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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